Taste Talks recently took over Brooklyn with multiple events that featured taste and talk the best of NYC's culinary talents. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Northside Town Hall. I didn't get to go to all of them but I did go to the All Star Cookout where chefs were paired to create something unique for the event. I am super stoked and honored to have gotten a chance to chat with Daniel Stedman, founder of Taste Talks.
What triggered your interest to create an event like Brooklyn Taste Talks? We've been publishing a community paper , The L Magazine, since 2003; over those ten years, we've spoken with almost every restaurant in Brooklyn, and we've seen this massive transformation of the culture of food in these past ten years. We also cover music, film and culture - and we've covered this transformation of Brooklyn into a massive cultural epicenter. Over the past few years, I've seen the culture of food surpass music, theater and art as something that interests every single person in Brooklyn. I think we felt like it was time to talk about it! Hence, Taste Talks. The core idea of Taste Talks is the Saturday conference, where we had a ton of incredible panelists, and a lot of amazing energy.
How did you come to the decision of pairing local chefs and encourage them to make something uniquely for Brooklyn Taste Talks? Collaboration is a really exciting trend in a lot of fields, and it seemed like a perfect way to bring people together for something unique at Taste Talks. And collaboration was at the cornerstone of each part of Taste Talks (the pancake breakfast, the conference, the All-Star Cookout, and Cook it Raw Brooklyn). I also got a lot of feedback post-festival that the collaborative aspect of Taste Talks made it really new , engaging, and productive for a lot of the chefs.
Brooklyn has been the epicenter for creative experiments (and they usually turn out well). What else about Brooklyn do you want everyone to know about, in regards to culinary creativity? I'm starting to notice something really incredible and amazing about all of this new creativity in Brooklyn. For years and years, Brooklyn has been a hub of manufacturing. People getting their hands dirty, lungs dirty, etc.. And that shows in the warehouses that turned into loft parties and transformed the borough. And now, with the gentrification, and the cultural transformation, and the "new digital age" , you look at all of the exiting things happening in Brooklyn and they all have one thing in common: it's still manufacturing. Look in Dumbo, at Jaques Torres and Brooklyn Coffee Roasters or in Crown Heights at the food incubator. Look at Cut Brooklyn and Best Made. Look at the Brooklyn Flea Vendors - a lot of these companies aren't just cooking or selling food; they are canning it themselves and manufacturing it. So, as far as culinary creativity in 2013, I think it's a return to the craft of manufacturing that's incredibly exciting.
What culinary trends do you think may start to become the norm or even become classics (if any)? In Brooklyn, we like the return to our heritage. Our denim jackets and beards. Our bourbon with a beer back. I think Brooklyn should take pride that we've made manufacturing a trend.
Why is it important for you to donate portion of Brooklyn Taste Talks profit to Northside Town Hall? Williamsburg and Greenpoint have changed a lot. The goal of Northside Town Hall is to convert a shuttered Firehouse into a headquarters for community service, arts and performance , and to keep alive the community spirit of the neighborhoods. That's our goal, as well, so it made a lot of sense to make them our charity.
How can people help out if they didn’t get to attend the event? They can come this weekend to Taste Williamsburg Greenpoint, which also supports Northside Town Hall!
What can we expect for next year (Brooklyn Taste Talks will be an annual thing)? Yes, this will definitely be an annual festival. We will hope to build off an incredibly successful first year!